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GPs in 'bung' victory

GPs are claiming a 'pyrrhic victory' after a PCT scrapped a controversial scheme to pay them for referring to an independent sector treatment centre.

Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT has ditched the £30 per patient 'enhanced payment' to send more patients to the underused Greater Manchester Surgical Centre. It was widely condemned by GPs as a 'bung' .

The PCT claimed the payment was to cover extra work required to assess patients' suitability to be referred to the centre.

But the GMC raised concern that GPs would be breaking Good Medical Practice guidelines if they accepted it.

Pulse understands no GP took up the offer.

Dr Stephen Fox, Wigan LMC chair, who first raised fears about the proposal, said the controversy had soured relations between the LMC and the PCT.

He said: 'It's a pyrrhic victory but I'm extremely glad I pointed it out.'

Dr Fox said GPs would not object to a properly formulated enhanced service for the work, but that this must not amount to a 'wheeze of the week'.

Gail Richards, chief executive of Oldham PCT, which is leading on commissioning in the Manchester area, said Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT had decided against setting up such an enhanced service.

She said: 'On further discussion with their local GPs, they are not doing that now. Provision is there, should it be needed, but in fact, patients are flowing through without it being needed.'

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